Real-Life Star Trek Tech
Guest Post By: Aradia
There’s a myriad of articles & posts that discuss how the Communicator from Star Trek has come to life as the modern day mobile phone, as well as mentions of other iconic Star Trek technologies. So, since we’ve all heard that one before, I’ll ask you to walk through a list of more up-and-coming tech—some of which we might see enter our everyday lives over the next decade or so.
1.) THE HYPOSPRAY. A few years back, I was writing & doing design work for a small consultancy that had clients in the pharmaceutical industry. While researching materials for a new course I was designing, I got a sample of a “revolutionary new Jet Injector” that was light years ahead of other companies. It was for cats—the company wanted to start out there & see how things went. I opened the package & followed the instructions, giving myself a faux injection. ‘Eureka!’ I exclaimed (in my head). ‘It’s a hypospray!’ I said aloud to my boss. She had no clue what I was talking about, but there it was. Now it’s out there in the medical field more pervasively, especially for mass-injection scenarios. Pretty cool.
2.) UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR. We’re not as far along on this one as I’d hoped, given the overall progress in the realm of voice recognition technologies & AI; but we are indeed on our way. One company has created a device that takes your words, sends them to ye olde Cloud, and sends it back—translated. It’s not instantaneous yet, but I have much confidence that we’ll get there soon.
3.) DATA. This guy has been my favorite from the beginning—partly because his character is so interesting, and partly because I can identify with him so much (another story). So, you can imagine I’m super excited about what companies like DeepMind may be doing in the area of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). “AGI” refers to artificial intelligence that can learn to perform very general tasks, rather than being programmed to perform one particular task. Supposedly this company is creating very human-like robots, but there’s little information available at this point. The part that scares me? Google has acquired this company, and whatever they’re working on here necessitates an “ethics board,” which makes me start thinking about Skynet.
4.) THE WARP DRIVE. A lot of us Trekkies have probably read about this one since last year, and I’ve been following progress online since the announcement. It actually looks like this could happen! A small team at NASA has been working on a modified Alcubierre drive, which creates a warp bubble by contracting space at the front of the craft & expanding it at the rear, making it possible to travel at 10 times the speed of light. While the team does wrestle with some huge challenges, such as fueling such a drive, they do appear to be making progress. We may not see this one in the real world for quite some time, but it’s on its way.
5.)THE REPLICATOR. Of all the seemingly impossible technologies in Star Trek, I always found this one hardest to believe. But, here it is, for realz. I’ve now watched a video of a printer synthesizing chocolate out of the raw ingredients. Wow. In general, 3-D printers are utterly fascinating, but this takes things to a whole new level.
I’m sad to say that all my research indicates we’ll never see a real-life Transporter. I can understand how breaking down and re-synthesizing a human would be impossible, be hey, you never know. Meantime, I’ll be satisfied if we just find a Minshara-class planet we can actually visit.
About the Author: Aradia is a Seattle-based Electro Pop-Rock musician who is a longtime Sci Fi / Star Trek fan. You can check connect with Aradia on Twitter and Facebook, and find her latest album Possibilities: Dark on iTunes.